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Jesus In the Quran By Geoffrey Parrinder pdf download

Book Title Jesus In The Quran
Book AuthorGeoffrey Parrinder
Total Pages189
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  Jesus In the Quran By Geoffrey Parrinder


Book introduction

This book has been written primarily for readers in the western world, the general public as well as students of theology and the comparative study of religions.

But it is hoped that it may also be useful to some people in Asia and Africa who have asked for a modern and impartial study of the teaching of the Qur’an about Jesus, which seems to be unobtainable in English or Arabic.

In the modern world, the ease of communications and the growth of world languages enable the spoken or written word to be studied far away. A lecture given in London may be reported in Cairo, and a book written in New York may be read in Lahore or Tokyo.

It is no longer possible to write or speak to a limited audience; all the world is listening. This means that when a westerner writes about another religion, say, Islam, there is not just a Christian but a world audience. One cannot write about Islam in a vacuum, for Muslims will read.

They may agree or disagree, and they are likely to be impressed or offended not only by what is said but by the way in which it is said, whether it is fair or prejudiced, sympathetic or antagonis­tic.

As W. Cantwell Smith has said, one must try to write so that intelligent and honest Muslims will recognize what is said as accurate; in fact, ‘no statement about religion is valid unless it can be acknowledged by that religion’s believers.

This is a study of religion, and it presupposes sympathy with religious faith.

The old idea that only an agnostic could write impartially is less popular now than in the last century, for it is realized that one who regards religion as superstition may well be biased and cannot hope to discover the inner spirit of religion or command the attention of believers.

It is noteworthy that some of the most eminent modern writers on Islam in English, French, and German are Christians who approach Islam as a kindred religion. But many academic scholars are interested chiefly in linguistic or historical matters, and questions of theology tend to get left aside for lack of interest or competence.

When the theologian enters this field he must try to follow academic discipline, apply its standards in the examination of texts and teachings, yet bring out the meaning and importance of religion. This gives at least three classes of readers: academic, Christian, and Muslim. It is indeed a world audience.1

The interest of this book is chiefly theological, and so ques­tions of textual criticism, a subject peculiarly delicate for Mus­lims, have largely been left aside.

Particularly, following the example of W. Montgomery Watt, ‘in order to avoid deciding whether the Qur’an is or is not the Word of God, I have refrained from using the expressions “God says” and “Muham­mad says” when referring to the Qur’an, and have simply said “the Qur’an says” ‘. 2

The teaching of the Qur’an is still little known in the Chris­tian and western world.

There are historical reasons of separa­tion and enmity that led to misunderstanding and neglect, and these ought no longer to apply if we are to live as neighbors and friends in one world, but there are literary reasons too.

The Qur’an has rarely been well translated, and in translation, it loses its poetic form and flavor.

It is not an easy book to read, especially in its traditional arrangement with the longest chap­ters first. Yet there is a great deal of its material that parallels stories and teachings of the Bible, both Old and New Testa­ments.

The texts that speak about Jesus are particularly important for Christians and Muslims, and it is hoped that it will be found useful to have these presented in a collected form. At the same time, the context of the rest of the Qur’an must not be neglected.

A selection cannot absolve the serious student from reading the whole book. It is not possible to understand Islam without studying all the Qur’an, yet to study it brings its own reward and gives at least an impression of the religious fervor, originality, and depth of this holy book.

To read the scriptures of other people is most important in such highly literary religions, and as a Christian would recommend the study of the Bible, and especially the Gospel, to his Muslim friends, so he may be urged to read and meditate on the Qur’an.

In the following pages attempts are made to show what the Qur’an says about Jesus and to examine in what senses the Quranic teaching may be taken. Parallels are given to this teaching in the Gospel, where they occur.

The many other teachings about Jesus found in the rest of the New Testament and the later church are not fully dealt with here, for that is another subject.

But it may be remarked that Islam when it left Arabia and entered into debate with Christians, came to see Christian teaching in dogmas which had been partly framed by Greek thought, both orthodox and heretical, and the Semitic thought of the Gospel was insufficiently known. Whether early Islam followed the tradition of Jewish Christianity, as Harnack and others suggested, is a difficult question and beyond our present concern, though it is worthy of more research and fuller light may be shed on it by archaeological discovery.1

In the course of Islamic history, various attitudes have been adopted towards Jesus. Some of these are based upon the Qur’an, while others have been influenced by later commentary and the unhappy controversies that have made our religions appear as enemies rather than as allies.

In modern times some leading Muslim writers lay rather than professional theolo­gians, have studied the Bible and written sympathetic accounts of Jesus as depicted there, while the authors have remained within the bounds of Islamic orthodoxy and personal faith. Certain extremists have gone on to criticize Jesus and his character, in a manner not only offensive to Christians but in­consistent with the teaching of both Qur’an and Gospel.

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